The organization Black Women for Wellness released “Natural Evolutions: One Hair Story,” a report outlining the health risks faced by Black women and girls due to a lack of federal oversight and regulation of hair care and beauty product manufacturers.
As a result of the sustained use of and exposure to toxic chemicals found in many hair care and beauty products over their lifetimes, both consumers and professionals face potentially devastating health consequences.
“The hair care and beauty products marketed to women are grossly unregulated — lacking proper testing or labeling,” said Nourbese Flint, program manager at Black Women for Wellness. “Failing to prohibit the use of toxins in these products — or at least requiring that these toxins be disclosed to consumers via product labels — is dangerous and detrimental to women’s health.”
[Click here to read the report]
The reports reveals the health ramifications of prolonged exposure and use of beauty products, including aggressive cancers, pulmonary risks and reproductive health challenges such as infertility and increased risk of miscarriage. These risks are especially true for individuals with prolonged exposure to these toxins through work as a beauty industry professional. For example, during a focus group of Black hair care professionals, a participant said that “after 20 years in the beauty industry, my friends have no fingerprints. They literally cannot go to the DMV, put their hands down and have a scan.”
The report calls for federal regulation of Black hair care product manufacturers, underscoring the need for transparency and education about the health risks for consumers and hair care professionals.
“We are seeing beauty professionals burdened with long-term, severe health impacts from exposure to toxic chemicals at work,” said Teni Adewumi, program coordinator with Black Women for Wellness. “Professionals should be equipped with the information and education they need to make informed decisions about hair care products. If not, how can they protect themselves and their clients?”